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Research Problems Chapter 2This multimedia product and its contents are protected under copyright law. The following are prohibited by law: • Any public performance or display, including transmission of any image over a network; • Preparation of any derivative work, including the extraction, in whole or in part, of any images; • Any rental, lease, or lending of the program. Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008Discussion Topics Research problems Quantitative research problems Qualitative research problems Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008Research Problems One or more sentences indicating the goal, purpose, or overall direction of the study General characteristics Implies the possibility of empirical investigation Identifies a need for the research Provides focus Provides a concise overview of the research Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008Research Problems Two ways of stating the problem Research problems: typically a rather general overview of the problem with just enough information about the scope and purpose of the study to provide an initial understanding of the research Research statements and/or questions: more specific, focused statements and questions that communicate in greater detail the nature of the study Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008Research Problems A general research problem The purpose of this study is to investigate the attitudes of high school students to mandated drug testing programs Specific statements and questions This study examines the differences between males’ and females’ attitudes toward mandated high school drug testing programs. What are the differences between freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior students’ attitudes toward mandated high school drug testing programs? Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008Research Problems Researchable and non-researchable problems Researchable problems imply the possibility of empirical investigation What are the achievement and social skill differences between children attending an academically or socially oriented pre-school program? What is the relationship between teachers’ knowledge of assessment methods and their use of them? Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008Research Problems Researchable and non-researchable problems Non-researchable problems include explanations of how to do something, vague propositions, and value-based concerns Is democracy a good form of government? Should values clarification be taught in public schools? Can crime be prevented? Should physical education classes be dropped from the high school curriculum? Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008Research Problems Quantitative problems Specific Closed Static Outcome oriented Use of specific variables Qualitative problems General Open Evolving Process oriented Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008Research Problems Sources of research problems Personal interests and experiences The use of formative tests in a statistics class The use of technology in a research class Deductions from theory The effectiveness of math manipulatives The effectiveness of a mastery approach to learning research Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008Research Problems Sources of research problems Replication of studies Checking the findings of a major study Checking the validity of research findings with different subjects Checking trends or changes over time Checking important findings using different methodologies Clarification of contradictory results Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Quantitative Research ProblemsIdentifies three specific elements The type of research design The variables of interest and the relationships between or among these variables The subjects involved in the study Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Quantitative Research ProblemsVariables A variable is a label of name that represents a concept or characteristic that varies (e.g., gender, weight, achievement, attitudes toward inclusion, etc.) Conceptual and operational definitions of variables Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Quantitative Research ProblemsConceptual and operational definitions of variables Conceptual (i.e., constitutive) definition: the use of words or concepts to define a variable Achievement: what one has learned from formal instruction Aptitude: one’s capability for performing a particular task or skill Operational definition: an indication of the meaning of a variable through the specification of the manner by which it is measured, categorized, or controlled A test score Income levels above and below $45,000 per year The use of holistic or phonetic language instruction Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Quantitative Research ProblemsThree types of variables defined by the context within which the variable is discussed Independent and dependent variables Extraneous and confounding variables Continuous and categorical variables Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Quantitative Research ProblemsIndependent and dependent (i.e., cause and effect) Independent variables act as the “cause” in that they precede, influence, and predict the dependent variable Dependent variables act as the effect in that they change as a result of being influenced by an independent variable Examples The effect of two instructional approaches (independent variable) on student achievement (dependent variable) The use of SAT scores (independent variable) to predict freshman grade point averages (dependent variable) Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Quantitative Research ProblemsExtraneous and confounding variables Extraneous variables are those that affect the dependent variable but are not controlled adequately by the researcher Not controlling for the key-boarding skills of students in a study of computer-assisted instruction Confounding variables are those that vary systematically with the independent variable and exert influence of the dependent variable Not using counselors with similar levels of experience in a study comparing the effectiveness of two counseling approaches Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Quantitative Research ProblemsContinuous and categorical variables Continuous variables are measured on a scale that theoretically can take on an infinite number of values Test scores range from a low of 0 to a high of 100 Attitude scales that range from very negative at 0 to very positive at 5 Students’ ages Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Quantitative Research ProblemsContinuous and categorical variables Categorical variables are measured and assigned to groups on the basis of specific characteristics Examples Gender: male and female Socio-economic status: low middle, and high The term level is used to discuss the groups or categories Gender has two levels - male and female Socio-economic status has three levels - low, middle, and high Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Quantitative Research ProblemsContinuous and categorical variables Continuous variables can be converted to categorical variables, but categorical variables cannot be converted to continuous variables IQ is a continuous variable, but the researcher can choose to group students into three levels based on IQ scores - low is below a score of 84, middle is between 85 and 115, and high is above 116 Test scores are continuous, but teachers typically assign letter grades on a ten point scale (i.e., at or below 59 is an F, 60 to 69 is a D, 70 to 79 is a C, is a B, and 90 to 100 is an A Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Quantitative Research ProblemsHypotheses Hypotheses are tentative statements of the expected relationships between two or more variables There is a significant positive relationship between self-concept and math achievement The class using math manipulatives will show significantly higher levels of math achievement than the class using a traditional algorithm approach Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Quantitative Research ProblemsReasons for using hypotheses To provide specific focus To provide for the testing of the relationships between variables To direct the investigation To allow the investigator to confirm or not confirm relationships Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Quantitative Research ProblemsReasons for using hypotheses To provide a framework for reporting the results and explanations deriving from them When supported, provides empirical evidence of the predictive nature of the relationships between variables To provide a useful framework for organizing and summarizing the results and conclusions Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Quantitative Research ProblemsTwo types of hypotheses Inductive and deductive Inductive hypotheses are formed through inductively reasoning from many specific observations to tentative explanations Deductive hypotheses are formed through deductively reasoning implications of theory Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Quantitative Research ProblemsTwo types of hypotheses Research or statistical Research hypotheses are conjectural statements of the expected results Directional Non-directional Statistical hypotheses are statements of a relationship or difference that can be tested statistically Null hypothesis Alternative hypothesis Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Quantitative Research ProblemsCriteria for evaluating research hypotheses Stated in declarative form Consistent with known facts, prior research, or theory Logical extension of the research problem States an expected relationship between two or more variables Can be tested Is clear and concise Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Qualitative Research ProblemsIdentifies a central phenomena (i.e., an issue or process) being investigated Examples of issues Drug abuse in high schools Teacher burnout Alienation of children with special needs Examples of processes How teachers change to standards-based curricula How students react to high stakes testing programs How students incorporate teachers’ expectations into their studies Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Quantitative Research ProblemsCriteria for evaluating quantitative research problems Problem is researchable Problem is important Problem should indicate the type of research Problem specifies the population being investigated Problem specifies the variables and the relationships between or among them Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Qualitative Research ProblemsCharacteristics Includes a single, central phenomena Open-ended General in nature Evolving, that is, problems change as data is collected and reflected upon Foreshadowed problems Emerging and reformulated questions Neutral with respect to what will be learned No predictions No expected outcomes Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
Qualitative Research ProblemsCriteria for evaluating qualitative research problems The problem should not be too general or too specific The problem should be amenable to change as data are collected and analyzed The problem should not be biased with restrictive assumptions or desired findings The problem should be written in “how” and “what” forms to focus on describing the phenomena The problem should include a central question as well as the participants and the site Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
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